They surely weren't looking for shoes as the popular myth states. To quote Mark Nesbitt, author of _Ghosts_of_Gettysburg_; "the 'Gettysburg Shoe Factories'...is a lot of malarkey." Gettysburg was a small town and had no vast shoe factories or anything of the like. The only way to obtain shoes in Gettysburg would be from the small shops or the townspeople. Not to mention the fact that Early had just been in the town and would have liberated all of the wealth, including shoes.
Harry Heth was a fighter and most likely was anxious to force an engagement of some kind. Let's face it, he was at the front of the ANV and with a decided victory over some Yankees he would have been considered a hero. Heth would have known that Early was just in Gettysburg and should also have known that all goods would have been taken or hidden. But the Yankees wouldn't have been hidden.
Lee's orders, as I understand it, was not to force an engagement until the army was concentrated somewhere outside Gettysburg. Heth was outside Gettysburg, with calvary in front of him. Usual tactics had the calvary in front of the main body. Calvary would have given a hint that there were plenty of infantry behind.
Heth knowing that also should not have sent anyone into Gettysburg. Instead it would seem more intelligent to assume a defensive position outside of town somewhere. A defensive position could have been found where his division could have waited until the army was concentrated there. Then, with both armies out in the open, an engagement could have taken place with the AoP in an offensive position on ground of the enemy's choosing.
So why did Heth go charging into Gettysburg? Not for shoes. That is the only thing that is certian in my mind. Even if Heth was under the impression that it was militia, not calvary in front of him, why go into an engagement with a little militia band? Why bother fighting and loosing any men because of a small town militia?
Sure Buford did a good job holding out (on ground of his choosing), but the engagement should not have been pressed at all.
The attack from the west began with Heth's division, Archer and Davis' brigade. After the noon lull, Heth's division resumed the attack with Brockenbroughs brigade pushing up the Chambersburg road, with the brigade left resting on the road, the attack being centered on Stone's brigade (150th, 149th and 143d Pa) around the McPherson farm buildings. To the right of Brockenbrough is Pettigrew's brigade, they are facing and overlapping the iron brigade in McPherson woods, the rightmost regiments of Pettigrew confronting Biddle on the iron brigade's left. Buford's cavalry is roaming the area around the Hagerstown road protecting the left of the infantry. To counter this Archer's shattered brigade is tagging along as flankers to the right of Pettigrew. Davis is regrouping north and west of the McPherson farm. Rode's division is handling the fight north of the Chambersburg road.
A.P. Hill orders Pender's division to advance behind and within supporting distance of Heth's division and Pender forms a second line conforming with and following Heth. Pender's brigades are Scales who is tracing the south side of the road similar to and behind the advance of Brockenbrough. Scales' brigade is the one that will be practically destroyed by the fire of 21 guns spaced no farther than 5 yards apart on the Seminary Ridge line, the brigade front striking near and a bit to the north of the Seminary. To the right of Scales is Perrin and to the right of Perrin is Lane. One other brigade of Pender; Thomas', is held back in reserve and does not join the attack (A.P. Hill's report, Part 2, pg 607)
Heth's division expends it's blood and ammunition pushing the union line off of the McPherson ridge. The union line falls back to the Seminary Ridge. It is at this time that Pender's line passes through the exhausted brigades of Heth to finish the attack on the 1st Corps.
Scales is practically destroyed. Much of the force of Lane is dissipated in safeguarding the right of the Confederate line against cavalry attack, and the final assault falls heavily on the lone Confederate brigade of Perrin.
I have heard arguments that there were no shoe factories in Gettysburg and that the idea of the Confederates entering Gettysburg (and starting the battle) in search of shoes is one of those romantic myths about the battle of Gettysburg. A friend recently mentioned the battle starting this way, and I found myself hedging and saying, "well, that is a popular story, but I have heard that it may not be entirely true..." Since I was bopping all over the place in the O.R.s, and was hanging out in the neighborhood of Heth's division, it struck me that it might be a good time to settle this question once and for all. See Heth's report, Part 2, pg 637: "On the morning of June 30, I ordered Brigadier-General Pettigrew to take his brigade to Gettysburg, search the town for army supplies (shoes especially), and return the same day."
Well, I don't care what anyone else says, that question from now on is settled in my mind. The Confederates were after SHOES.
Subject: Heth's Brigade at Gettysburg
On the night of June 28 Lee received a report from a spy named Harrison that the AofP was moving in such a way as to threaten his rear. To counter this movement Lee ordered a concentration to the eastward. On June 29 Ewell was ordered to either Cashtown or Gettysburg. Hill was to move from Chambersburg to these same towns. Longstreet was to follow Hill on June 30.
To answer the query, "What was Heth doing in Gettysburg?", he was ordered there as a precautionary concentration against the probable location of the AofP. As to why Archer's Brigade moved so fast, Heth ordered a rapid move to seize the road junction ar Gettysburg. Buford arrived first!
IMHO, to emphasize the role of either Heth or AP Hill in bringing on the battle is to miss the point. Lee had already formulated a plan on hearing that the AoP was shadowing him. It was to concentrate his three corps at Cashtown. Even as he was riding forward to get into the action northwest of Gettysburg, Lee remaarked on the strength of the Cashtown position; in case of defeat "it will shelter us from disaster."
Lee's original plan was an excellent one. This term, I happened to teach a class in a building that contains athe geology department and, for some reason, they had a huge molded relief map of PA hanging on the wall. Look at the Gettysburg area, if you have a comparable map. South Mountain ain't the Himalayas, but from the 19th century military perspective it's an impressive redoubt. The Cashtown Gap is the only broad passageway through it, and this is an easily defended pass. It could have been held indefinitely against any Federal frontal attack. Moreover, it backed up upon the Cumberland Valley route which was Lee's line of communication with Va.
Let's consider what kind of situation Lee would have had if he'd concentrated and fortified at Cashtown:
- Meade would have been under continual pressure from Lincoln and Stanton to attack the ANV as soon as possible. Meade might have been able to face down that pressure; but probably not. The most probable result of such an attack would have been another Fredricksburg or worse, with subsequent opportunities for Lee to advance further against a battered and demoralized AoP.
- If Meade had pursued a more cautious strategy, it would probably have involved establishing a fortified line of his own between Cashtown and Gettysburg. Lee would have had easy communication with his base, via Hagerstown, and easy foraging in the Cumberland Valley and to the west, especially after Stuart's arrival. Possibly, an army assembled from militia might have come against him from that direction, but in my judgment, it could have been dealt with fairly easily. In any case, it would always have been Lee's option to withdraw an essentially undamaged army southward, as circumstances suggested.
- Even if Meade had sat tight, Lee might have found other offensive opportunities by moving south into Md. or Va. and coming at Washington through one of the passes there. Would Meade have been able to respond quickly enough to block? Maybe, but again, he would havae been playing catch-up in a war of maneuver.
- Assuming that the AoP performed optimally, blocking Lee's routes to Washington without committing itself to the offensive on unfavorable ground, the Federals might have begun to think about taking Richmond with some of theirforces from the Va. and NC coast, plus other odds and ends, perhaps including newly-mustered militia. But if Lee remains sufficiently alert, presumably he can move back to Va. to block this and return, in effect, to the status quo ante. While this scenario would not have been the breakthrough victory of Lee's dreams, it certainly would have imposed a frustrating and exhausting summer upon the North while raising Va. and Confederate morale considerably, and exasperating that of the Union. It would have been an excellent way to utilize a force-in-being to maximal strategic and political advantage without sapping its strength.
But, in the event, all these possibilites were cast away by Lee's "audacity". Heth may have been a fool, and AP Hill an insecure beginner at the corps level, but Lee could have called them off at any time, pulled them back towards Cashtown, and diverted Ewell in the same direction. He was the commander; nothing Heth or Hill might do could commit him if he wanted not to be committed at Gettysburg. What a commander is supposed to do is command, not hope some subordinates will read his mind or make the correct decision when he can't make his own. It wasn't Heth's advance, nor Hill's that made Gettysburg a major battle. It was Lee's. He abandoned his own plans and negated his own orders "not to bring on a general engagement" because, as his admirers like to put it, "his blood was up". It was his call, and his blunder. The Lee hagiographers have distracted attention from this fact for more than a century, but it is a fact. Without Lee's active approval, "Gettysburg" would have designated an indecisive skirmish, a prelude to who-knows-what. The man was fatally impatient, and his army paid for it with thousands of useless casualties.
From: PhilosCook@aol.com aka Ben Maryniak
Subject: Harison the spy
First of all, don't believe everything you see in the movies or read in novels. There were a few people who thought the Harrison story was a fable. Longstreet's two versions have two different dates. To get a proper argument about this, pick up Mark (the ghosts at gettysburg guy) Nesbitt's new book, Saber & Scapegoat - JEB Stuart and the Gettysburg Controversy. It's a good read. I had the good luck to take it one step further and discuss it with Mark, who proves to be as well-versed in the flesh as he sounds in print.
In fact, Heth was one of JEB's detractors after the war, because he had whole lot to distract attention from.
From: email@example.com (Robert W Lawrence)
The best explanation I have seen as to what Heth was doing in Gettysburg on July 1 is found in Harry Pfanz's "Gettysburg the Second Day" Per Pfanz: "As Ewells two divisions approached his left, General Hill worried about the nature of the federal force that Pettigrew's brigade had seen near Gettysburg on June 30 and sought to learn more about it. He sent Heth's whole division toward the town at daybreak in a recconaissance in force"
This makes much more sense than the shoe story (for one thing it is doubtfull that Lee would bypass the chain of command and give Heth permisiion to go looking for shoes-Hill was Heths commander and any movement of his troops would have to come through Hill.) In addition Heth was not the only troops on the move that morning-Hill sent Penders division to follow Heths. It is not likely Hill would have sent 25,000 men to get "shoes".
I can find no evidence that Heths job was to secure crossroads or take any other objectives-on the contray he was warned not to start a general engagement. It appears he job was simply to investigate the situation at Gettysburg and report back.
Great topics to ponder so far..
Mattt begins the discussion by saying...
> Harry Heth was a fighter and most likely was anxious to
>force an engagement of some kind. Let's face it, he was at the
>front of the ANV and with a decided victory over some Yankees he
>would have been considered a hero. Heth would have known that
>Early was just in Gettysburg and should also have known that all
>goods would have been taken or hidden. But the Yankees wouldn't
>have been hidden.
Heth was in Gettysburg on July 1 because he had to be somewhere. His desire to move his troops into Gettysburg neither indicates that he was or was not looking to start a general engagement. Both armies wee jockeying for position. Heth's move was a part of that general shifting about.
Philos piques my interest about Harison when he writes...
>First of all, don't believe everything you see in the movies or read in
>novels. There were a few people who thought the Harrison story was a fable.
>Longstreet's two versions have two different dates.
I think that Harrison's role in the battle has been overly romanticized - so, as you say, don't believe everyhting you see or read in novels and movies. However, it will take a litle more to convince me there was no Harrison report at all. Max Sorrell writes about him, and as you indicate, Longstreet also talks about him. Two pretty tough sources to refute on the question of whether or not Harrison did report to Longstreet.
Norm Levitt touches on what I think would make a great separate topic...
>Lee's original plan was an excellent one. The Cashtown Gap is
>the only broad passageway through it, and this is an easily
>defended pass. It could have been held indefinitely against
>any Federal frontal attack.Moreover, it backed up upon the
>Cumberland Valley route which was >Lee's line of communication
Actually, this wasn't Lee's original plan. Lee had been heading - it seems - toward Harrisburg; when Lee heard of the crossing of Meade of the Potomac, he was forced to modify his plan and he ordered his troops to congregate around Cashtown. He was clearly concerned about his lack of knowledge of the Union movements. As you point out, his line of communication was of great concern to him; thus, Lee saw Cashtown only as a good defensive position while he gathered his forces rather than as a spot to fortify and draw in Meade.
> Meade would have been under continual pressure from
>Lincoln and Stanton to attack the ANV as soon as possible. Meade
>might have been able to face down that pressure; but probably not.
>The most probable result of such an attack would have been another
>Fredricksburg or worse, with subsequent opportunities for Lee to
>advance further against a battered and demoralized AoP.
Meade's caution before Gettysburg made Lee's movements audacious by nature. Perhaps Meade would have thrown his troops against an entrenched Lee at Cashtown, but everything he did prior to the battle at Gettysburg indicates that he was in no frame of mind to attack an entrenched enemy. The Pipe Creek Circular indicates this.
>But if Lee remains sufficiently alert, presumably he can move
>back to Va. to block this and return, in effect, to the status
>quo ante. While this scenario would not have been the
>breakthrough victory of Lee's dreams, it certainly would have
>imposed a frustrating and exhausting summer upon the North
>while raising Va. and Confederate morale considerably, and
>exasperating that of the Union. It would have been an
>excellent way to utilize a force-in-being to maximal strategic
>and political advantage without sapping its strength.
Lee came North, among other things, to move the war out of Virginia for the summer. He also had to have a victory up North for political reasons that a victory in the valley could not offer. He must have known this would be the last time he could invade so far north, and he would have viewed any blocking of the invasion by the Union troops as a major defeat. So would the Southern press and politicians.
> He abandoned his own plans and negated
>his own orders "not to bring on a general engagement" because, as his
>admirers like to put it, "his blood was up".
I believe this was Longstreet's rather cynical appraisal as to why Lee led the ANV into such a disaster at Gettysburg.
The above is all my interpretation, and I welcome other discussion of these points.
From: Norman Levitt
Subject: Re: Heth
My basic point is that in terms of grand strategy, Lee--and the whole Confederacy-- were on the strategic defensive, and that Lee's choice of operational plans should have been dictated by that ultimate consideration. Lee didn't "need" an outright victory in the North; he needed a frustrated and impotent Federal Army that had no immediate prospect of doing anything to take Richmond or subdue his own force. A stay in Penna. of eight or ten weeks, even if nothing more came of it than skirmishing, would have accomplished that. The best hope of the South in the Eastern theater was an extended stalemate, and a stalemate north of the Mason-Dixon Line would have been appreciably more valuable than one on the Rappahannock. The point should have been to draw the AoP north and to keep it on the strategic defensive, while provoking it to take the tactical offensive under disadvantageous conditions. Sitting tight in Cashtown would have been a good way of accomplishing this. By the way, I'm not convinced that Meade's caution could have prevailed against Lincoln's anxiety in such a situation, though there's no way of knowing. It's one thing to "shoo geese" after they've been defeated, another to take a passive position against a strong, dangerous army in your own territory. I simply don't believe that Meade would have had much choice except to go after the ANV before too much time elapsed.
But anyway, it makes for an interesting discussion and I'd appreciate any other views on this point. The only thing I'm at all dogmatic about is that Lee is the central figure; he didn't calumniate Longstreet, Ewell, Hill, Early or anyone else for betraying him; it was his battle at G'burg and whatever large-scale decisions went right or wrong, they have to be laid at his doorstep, not upon subordinates who it was Lee's duty to supervise closely on the field. That's what he was there for; otherwise, he might as well have stayed in Richmond.
> Heth was in Gettysburg on July 1 because he had to be
>somewhere. His desire to move his troops into Gettysburg
>neither indicates that he was or was not looking to start a
>general engagement. Both armies wee jockeying for position.
>Heth's move was a part of that general shifting about.
I >know there's been some arguement about the shoe issue, and I'm
>aware that there wasn't any sort of factory at Gettysburg. But
>wasn't there a rumor floating about that there was a Federal
>supply depot there, that Pettigrew had gone in on June 30 to
>try and locate? Whether it was really there or not I've never
>discovered, but I've also read something to the effect that
>Heth said to his Corps commander 'Well, I'll go in the morning
>and get those shoes' (paraphrased, I don't have the book with
In the same book it also mentioned that the reason to the two armies were drawn into battle was because the two lead divisions on the field were commanded by two hard fighting generals (Heth and Reynolds) neither of which were willing _not_ to initiate an engagement.
> Lee came North, among other things, to move the war
>out of Virginia for the summer. He also had to have a
>victory up North for political reasons that a victory in the
>valley could not offer. Wasn't it also in order to help draw
>some of the pressure off from Vicksburg in the West? Since the
>Federal armies had not been acting anywhere near in concert
>with each other, and Lee had already proven himself capable of
>defeating any general put in command of the A of the P, was it
>considered as a way of helping to draw more Federal forces to
>the East, and relieve the pressure out West? Surely he figured
>he could beat any of those generals as easily as he had the
What would have a grand defensive strategy hace accomplished? It was tried in the west-it failed. It was tried in 1864-it failed. I say again that Lee knew he could not win a war of attrition-his only chance was to achieve total victory was in the political arena-not the field of battle. He had to destroy the North's will to fight and for that reason he went north.
About the only thing digging in at Fredricksburg would have accomplised would have ressurected "The King of Spades"
Norm Levitt's point is supported by Lee-basher Alan T Nolan in his contribution to a great little collection of essays (cheap, too) called The First Day At Gettysburg edited by Gary Gallagher. To summarize Nolan's well-written arguments, he points out that Lee had viable alternatives to his invasion but that he was ever committed to the grand strategic offensive. He took a substantial and unacceptable risk in the Gburg campaign.
(Moderator's Note: I Hope you don't get my Brother Bob going on Nolan!)
I will have to admit I am not a Nolan fan. Although I readily agree that Lee was not the "perfect" general as many attempted to portray him in the years after the war I must take issue with Nolans comment that he titled his epic smear of Lee- "Lee Considered" - because "Lee has in fact not been considered". There we have it-after 156 years of historians researching and writing about Lee, suddenly, in 1991 we are "blessed" with Alan T Nolan being the first author to ever "consider" Lee.
This arrogance is rampant is his book(which is full of such gems as "it is generally accepted today that South could have won the war" and then going on to tell us that since they didn't it's Lee's fault). In the world of Alan T Nolan Lee was a brilliant tatiican but lousy at "overall" strategy.
Nolans criticism of the Gettysburg camapign is that Lee should have followed a grand "defensive strategy". He beleives that the South would have better served by diggin in on the south side of the Rappahannock and awaitng the Union attack. Of course Nolan ignores the fact that is exactly the stategy that Lee followed in 1864-the results of that strategy are wll known(Nolan BTW then blames Lee for prolonging the war and costing thousand of lives when he knew there was no chance of victory).
I think those that believe a defensive strategy are ignoring the political implications of the Gettysburg Campaign. Lee knew that he could not win a war of attrition(once Lincoln got a General who realized this simple fact the South's fortunes dropped rapidly). The best chance the South had of bringing a quick end to the war was a decisive victory on Northern soil followed quicky by peace overtures. Lee knew that victory lay in killing the Unions will to fight-not in digging trenches in Fredricksburg. One can only imagine the effect on the moral of the Union if the Confederates had achieved a "Second Bull Run" type victory at Gettysburg. The Union may very well have followed Horace greely's advice and let the"wayward" sisters go.
I fault Lee for the failure to take Cemetery Hill on day one, the lateness of the attack on day 2 and the ill fated attempt to break the Union middle on day 3. I also, however, believe the strategy of invading Pennsylvania was the best hope the south had to bring the war to a favorable close in 1863
I have not read the book in question, but I do agree that Lee's Gettysburg Campaign was a brilliant idea. Forcing the AOP out of Virginia, putting political, popular and military pressure on Washington, and allowing his army to forage in a rich farm region without harming the South's economy. Where his plans fell apart were in Buford's tenacity, Reynold's speed, Hancock's eye for terrain, and Meade's willingness to trust the judgement of his subordinates (something he had never had to worry about in the previous commanders of the AOP).
Writing a book that claims to "Consider" Lee is foolish. Lee is perhaps the most inscrutible character to come out of the Civil War. His piety, tenacity, and charisma overshadow his tempor, stubborness and blind loyalty to certain commanders who would inevitably let him down. Trying to Consider Lee is like pondering the Universe. He never wrote memoirs, instead, he left his papers to Longstreet who managed to use them to his own agenda. We will never be able to fully understand Lee fully, but to claim that Lee's command decisions were responsible for the bleeding the South endured from Spring of 63 till the end of the War as foolish as the title of the book.
Subject: Harrison, Heth
I personally feel that Harrison didn't surprise Lee with any of his news. At very best, Harrison was a sort of "last straw" that lit a fire under Lee. As to his appearance, you can take your pick. Lee staffer Venable sent a June 28 dispatch to Ewell saying Harrison had "arrived in camp yesterday," Fremantle notes on June 30 that Pete told him he had just recd word about Hooker replaced by Meade, and Dutch himself said June 29 in one postwar article and then claimed it was typo and that it had really been June 28.
Harry Heth had a self-serving article in the July 1877 issue of the Southern Historical Socty Papers. In it, he let loose with all the Gburg conjectures about causes of defeat which were standard for that time - Stonewall's absence, Longstreet's delays, uncoordinated attacks, Pickett's Charge shouldn't have been made - but he said all of them paled next to "the absence of our cavalry." Never mind that he had just quoted Lee as denying he had been whipped and that the AoP had been set back. Lee supposedly commented "And sir we did whip them at Gburg, and it will be seen for the next six months that that army will be as quiet as a sucking dove."
Heth went on to say that Gburg was the "result purely of an accident for which I am probably more than any one else accountable." (So he actually struck the same pose as Lee saying it was all his fault.) He also rolled out the twaddle about barefoot southern boys looking for shoes.
In his 1897 Memoirs, Heth claimed that neither he nor Hill (putting words in a dead guy's mouth) believed Genl Pettigrew's warnings about what had been seen in Gburg the day before. Twice he claims that he asked Hill if he could go to Gburg and Hill did not oppose his suggestion.
As a rejoinder to Harry's quote about "the absence of our cavalry," John Mosby observed that the ANV didn't crush the Yankees at Gburg "due to the presence of Heth."
Instead of assuming Harrison exists in novels or movies please read Douglas S. Freeman, R.E. Lee, Vol. 111. Freeman is still the standard source for ANVa movements to Gettysburg.
_Lee's Lieutenant's_ V. III, pp. 48-49 - Douglas Southal Freeman
While old Pete had been at Sufolk, Secretary Seddon had dispatched to his Corps headquarters a Misissippian of adventurous spirit whgo had offered to serve as a spy. The man, known only as Harrison, was about thirty years of age. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, was bearded and slightly stooped and had penetrating eyes. All spies were suspected of being double traitors and of giving the enemy as much information as they got from him; but Longstreet employed Harrison and found the man both active and trustworthy...Sources for Freeman's account: Max Sorrell, Longstreet, Private letters in John Fairfax collection.
Harrison disappeared; the Army moved northward; on the night of June 28, travel-worn and dirty, the spy appeared at the Confederate outposts. He was arrested and taken to headquarters, where of course, he was recognized and escorted to Longstreet's tent. Harrison had news of importance: The Federal Army had left Virginia and had moved North of the Potomac; at least two corps were close to Frederick; once more, the command had been transferred. This time, the new leader of the Army of the Potomac was Maj. Gen. George Meade.
In the absence of Stuart's Cavalry, none of this information had reached Army Headquarters. Even if the cavalry had been at hand, some of the facts unearthed by Harrison might not have been discovered. Credit was due Harrison, and, indirectly, Longstreet. Corps commanders usually chose spies, but Longstreet saw to it that his spies were well chosen and diligent.
Harrison's report produced an immediate change in the dispositions of the army. In order to keep the enemy at maximum distance from lines of supply, A.P. Hill was directed to move his Corps, east of the mountains. Longstreet was to follow. Pickett's Division should be left on guard at Chambersburg....
Coddington echoes a group member's warning, page 181....
The dramatic incident of the spy is one of the many episodes and names which have become improbably linked with the Gettysburg story and make it distinctive. The battle would lose some of its fascination for Americans without such places as Little Round Top, Devil's Den, the Wheatfield, and Spangler's Spring; such vignettes as that of General Pettigrew and his shoeless brigade starting the battle, General Gordon giving succor to the wounded General Barlow, General Hooker being removed under strange circumstances, and the spy, Harrison, finding the Army of the Potomac for Lee. Though a mixture of truth and fiction, these stories are usually accepted without question and recited over and over almost as a litany of the battle. Official versions of the spy incident, bringing out its main features and meaning apear in both of Lee's reports of the campaign..." (Discussion of lack of cavalry follows).Sources for Coddington: Freeman and OR, XXVII, pt.1, pp. 64, 67, 143; pt 2, pp. 307, 316, 358, 694
Is there any doubt that the large ego of CSA Major General J.E.B. Stuart could have indirectly ended the chances for Confederate Victory?
Stuart was a disaster waiting to happen. From the Gettysburg movie and the Killer Angels, you could get a pretty good sense of what Stuart was like...a person committed only to promoting his image. And that's exactly what he did during the first day of Gettysburg. While Heth accidentally ran into cavalry, Stuart was riding off North "getting his name in the papers." Harrison was lucky enough to locate the Union army befre it closed in on the spread out ANV. If Stuart would have been there, he could have alerted Lee before the Union brought their forces so close to Cashtown and around that area. Lee could have concentrated his forces early, and left for the West. He could have left Early in York, which he captured, and simply move the West capturing Johnstown, Pittsburgh, and eventually major cities in Ohio.
This argument is very debatable, but I will add more later. Appreciate hearing your responses.
The following from Glen Tucker's "High Tide at Gettysburg" pg 97
"In Cashtown on the night of June 29 Heth recalled Jubal Early's report of a quantity of boots and shoes in Gettysburg."
Then on page 100 with generals Pettigrew and Heth confering with General A.P. Hill " 'If there is no objection, General', interjected Heth, 'I will take my division tomorrow and go to Gettysburg and get those shoes.'" "None in world," Hill replied.
If the main question is "Why was the battle fought at Gettysburg", then the more important subordinate question is "Did the Confederates believe there were shoes and boots there". The question as to whether or not there actually were shoes and boots becomes moot. Unless, of course, you are a student of deception and want to know why the Confederates thought there were.
...I have always understood that Pettigrew's brigade did indeed report that there might be shoes in Gettysburg, and this was one reason Heth took his division down the road.
It is indeed true that Jubal Early had been through town on the 26th or so of June, and might well have cleaned out all the supplies. But would troops in Hill's Corps know of this? More to the point, perhaps, would they still have wanted to go looking for themselves?
According to my copy of Coddington (pp. 263-264, plus footnotes), Heth pretty consistently stuck to the story about getting shoes, and Coddington does not bring up any alternate theories that I noticed. He does chide Heth for thinking that Early would have left anything in town, but the issue is not whether he *would* have found shoes, but whether that is what he was looking for.
If there is any source material to gainsay this I am all ears, but I am under the impression that Coddington is considered pretty reliable and thorough.
We cannot drive a stake through the heart of the shoe story. I take up my side again
The myth of shoes is TRUE and it is NOT TRUE. For those who like the notion that the battle began after a shoe detail blundered into a Union force at Getysburg, you have Heth's official report which clearly states his intentions.
"Reports of Major General Henry Heth, C. S. Army, commanding division. HEADQUARTERS HETH'S DIVISION, Camp near Orange Court-House, September 13, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the operations of my division from June 29 until July 1, including the part it took in the battle of Gettysburg (first day), July 1. The division reached Cashtown, Pa. , on June 29. Cashtown is situated at the base of the South Mountain, on the direct road from Chambersburg, via Fayetteville, to Gettysburg, and 9 miles distant from the latter place. On the morning of June 30, I ordered Brigadier-General Pettigrew to take his brigade to Gettysburg, search the town for army supplies (shoes especially), and return the same day...." (OR. Gettysburg Campaign, part II, page 637)
On the other hand, Heth was - as Ben points out - writing retrospectively - trying to put as good a face he could on his blunder into Gettysburg. Edwin Coddington is not taken in:
" In other words, he (Heth) used up the shoe leather of of approximately 2,400 of his infantry men on a foraging expedition which involved a round trip of sixteen miles or more in weather Lee felt was almost too enervating for men on the move. General Heth should have realized that there was little liklihood of finding worthwhile suplies of any kind and shoes in particular in a town through which Early's men had swept four days earlier. Even if he did not know about Early, Heth's objectives hardly justified using so many men on a long tiring march, especially as without a cavalry escort, he took the added risk of sending them into a trap" (Coddington, p. 263).
Harry Pfanz ignores the shoe issue altogether and states simply that A.P. Hill
worried about the nature of the Federal force that Pettigrew's force had seen near Gettysburg on 30, June and sought to learn more about it. He sent Heth's whole division toward town at daybreak in a reconaissance in force. As a precaution, Hill had Pender's division follow in support. Thus on the morning of 1 July four Confederate divisions from two corps, nearly 25,000 men approached an area containing Union forces of unknown strength (Pfanz_ The Second Day_, p. 21)
. It would have had to have been a pretty big Nike factory to satisfy these troopers needs! Henry Heth may have tossed the shoe ploy around before and after the battle, but to state the Confederates came to Gettysburg loking for shoes is simplistic. The blood of the leaders of the Army of Virginia was up, and looking for shoes was the least of their concerns.
David G. Martin, in his new book Gettysburg July 1, sticks to the same story about Heth looking for shoes. His quotes are from Heth's memoirs. Looks like we're stuck with the shoe stuff !